WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., Jan. 7, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Chris and Vince Centofanti thought they knew all about preterm birth. She was a neonatal nurse-practitioner caring for critically ill babies, and he worked for GE Healthcare's Maternal-Infant Care division, providing specialized medical equipment to hospitals.
But then their own baby, Nina, was born nine weeks early, weighing less than three pounds. She suffered from respiratory distress and spent her first five weeks fighting for life in a newborn intensive care unit (NICU).
"I can't tell you how difficult it was, seeing our own little girl lying in the NICU, fighting for life. All our hopes and dreams for her hung in the balance," says Chris Centofanti. "As a nurse-practitioner I've seen many other parents in this situation, and now I know exactly how they feel."
"I never expected that my own daughter would have to be cared for in a NICU with the equipment I had provided to the hospital," says Vince Centofanti.Chris adds, "Thanks to the care that Nina received, and the support of the March of Dimes for research and treatment, now we also know the relief and joy parents feel when their child survives and becomes healthy enough to leave the NICU and go home." Today Nina Centofanti has grown into an active 7-year-old who loves to dance, climb trees and turn handsprings. She has been named the March of Dimes 2013 National Ambassador. As ambassador, Nina and her family will travel the United States visiting public officials and corporate sponsors, and encouraging people to participate in the March of Dimes' largest fundraiser, March for Babies. The money raised supports community programs that help moms have healthy, full term pregnancies, and funds research to find answers to the problems that threaten babies' lives. "Serving as the National Ambassador family is a way for us to show our appreciation for our children's good health, and serve as advocates for lifesaving March of Dimes programs," says Vince. "The March of Dimes has provided 75 years of support for research, treatments, educational and prenatal care programs that has saved lives, reduced the suffering, and improved the quality of life for countless children and the parents who love them. My daughter Nina is one of their success stories; a perfect example of what March of Dimes efforts have accomplished."